Lok Sabha is the Lower House of Parliament. It has its own Presiding Officer. He is called the Speaker of the House. The House elects another officer known as the Deputy Speaker. In the absence of the Speaker or when the office of the Speaker is vacant, the Deputy Speaker discharges the functions of the Speaker.
The Speaker of the Lok Sabha is elected by the member of the Lok Sabha. The Speaker must necessarily be a member of Lok Sabha. The primary function of the newly elected Lok Sabha is to elect Speaker & Deputy Speaker. The Speaker is elected by a simple majority which in reality means by the party in power.
Normally the Speaker is elected for a period of five years. However, he continues in office until a new Speaker is elected by the new House. The Speaker does not vacate his office even when the House is dissolved. The Speaker has to vacate his office if he ceases to be member of the House. He can be elected to this office for the second time also. The Speaker can resign his office at any time. He can also be removed from his office by a resolution passed by a majority of all members on the roll of the Lok Sabha 14 days notice for moving such a resolution is required to be given. The Speaker cannot preside over a meeting of the House when the House is considering the resolution of his removal.
The salary & allowances of the Speaker are determined by the Parliament & these are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
Powers & Function of the Speaker
The Speaker performs various functions & enjoys wide powers down partly from the constitution & partly from the Rules & Procedure & Conduct of Business Parliament – 1950. The functions are as follows.
- He allows members to ask questions. He has also the power to disallow in case they are not in conformity with the Rules of the House.
- Adjournment Motions are moved with his consent. He also prescribes the time limit for speeches on the motion.
- The Speaker may allow the publication of a Bill in the Gazette of India upon a request from a member initiating the Bill even before the motion for leave to introduce the Bill has been made. In such a case it does not remain necessary to ask for leave of the House to introduce the Bill.
- He appoints the Chairman of Selection Committees. He himself is ex-officio Chairman of some vital committees, such as Rules Committees the Business Advisory Committee & the General Purposes Committee.
- He decides about the admissibility of a motion in the House.
- No member can address the House without his permission. He is also to see that no member makes an irrelevant speech & thereby wastes the time of the House.
- He preserves order in the House. If the situation goes out of control he can adjourn & suspend the meeting of the house.
- If a member disregards his authority in spite of warning wm he can name him for suspension. In case a member does not leave to House on the order of the Speaker, the Speaker can ask the watch and word staff to lift him bodily & remove him from the House.
The Speaker conducts the business of the House. However he cannot preside over the meeting of the House when the House is considering the resolution of the removal of the Speaker from office. But he has the right to sit, take part in the proceedings & defend himself. He has the right to vote also but he has no casting vote there.
He is the guardian of the privileges of the members of Lok Sabha. He can insist that action must be taken against any one guilty of violating the privileges of the members of the House.
The Speaker has no right to vote in the first instance but he has the right to vote in case of a tie.
The Speaker represents the House & not the Government. For the humblest back bencher is no less than a member and the greatest minister is no more than a member. He protects the members from the high handedness of the Government. The Speaker can pull the ministers up whereas answers given by them are not clear adequate or deliberately postponed for no valid reason.
The office of the Speaker is one of the honor, dignity & authority. He presides over the House which is pivot of all political gravity. He symbolizes the House & his authority. In the words of G.V. Mavalankar, he is supreme in the House. According to former Speaker Hukum Singh “Speaker is one of the highest offices in the land.”